This is part eight of a series on how to approach bash programming in a way that’s safer and more structured than your basic script.

See part 1 if you want to catch the series from the start.

Last time, we described how to source a library without depending on PATH. This time we’ll look at putting our support function, sourced, in a library and source it from our script.

In the Library, With the Lead Pipe

Let’s extract out our sourced function into a support library. First we’ll need a lib directory:

mkdir lib


sourced () {
  [[ ${FUNCNAME[1]} == source ]]

Note that there’s no shebang for a library file since it’s never run as a command.


#!/usr/bin/env bash

source "$(dirname -- "$(readlink --canonicalize -- "$BASH_SOURCE")")"/../lib/support.bash

main () {

hello_world () {
  echo "hello, world!"

sourced && return

main "$@"

With this arrangement, hello_world can focus on what it does without distraction.

For its part, the support library can supply its functionality for all of our projects. All that is required is a copy of the file and the source statement at the top of the script.

One benefit of this method of sourcing is that you can symlink to hello_world from another location and it will still find the support library correctly, despite the fact that the link will not share the same relative position to the library. That’s due to readlink’s ability to find the true location of hello_world.

Continue with part 9 - another test